Do you remember those 1980s public service announcement commercials that started off by saying "This is drugs...This is your brain on drugs...any questions." and then there would be an image of an egg being fried in a pan?
While there may not have been much detail given in those commercials, turns out your brain is actually the consistency of a soft-boiled egg or softened butter. It's housed in a hard, bony shell (our skull) that has ridges and some sharp areas. [Think of all the attention given to concussions as the brain moves around in the skull upon impact]
But have you ever thought about what your brain looks like when you are happy or sad, eating and sleeping well, depressed or anxious?
I'm fascinated with how the brain works and in my line of work I think about what the brain is doing often. The brain is capable of so very much. It controls so much of of our lives and our existence both consciously and subconsciously.
Last Friday, I had the opportunity to attend a conference on the brain given at the Amen Clinic by its Chief Psychiatrist, Dr. Joseph Annibali and its Director, Teresa Micheli.
This proved to be a fascinating opportunity to see how the brain communicates, its activity level, and blood flow. At the Amen Clinic they can scan and measure the function of the brain using a single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) scan.
A SPECT scan is a type of nuclear imaging test, which means it uses a radioactive substance and a special camera to create 3D pictures. While imaging tests such as X-rays can show what the structures inside your body look like, a SPECT scan produces images that show how your organs work. (credit Mayo Clinic)
As it turns out, the brain really does look and operate differently under different circumstances. Take a look at this SPECT scan of a healthy brain and notice the smooth even surface.
Photo credit Amen Clinic
Now look at typical SPECT scan of a brain when it is under the influence of alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, poor diet, or lack of appropriate sleep. Notice the shriveled appearance, pitted surface, and holes. Those are areas where the brain is no longer communicating or working properly.
Photo credit Amen Clinic
What you do, how you eat, and what you inhale and ingest really does matter to your brain. Eating well, sleeping, avoiding excess of sugar, alcohol and managing your thoughts all effects how your brain looks and more importantly, functions.
There exists transplant procedures for hearts, lungs, liver, and even skin, but there are no brain transplants. So it is worth it to take care of the brain you have! It can be healed, improved, and optimized. And so much of that improvement can be done through natural and holistic means. This is one of the reasons I really admire the work of the Amen Clinics. They also frequently recommend the use of hypnotherapy in their brain care regimens!
So before the holidays add more stress to your already busy schedule, plan some time to address your own brain health and the habits that may be taking away from your brain's optimal use.
Free Discovery Sessions and 20% off packages can all be booked online. Use it for yourself or pass this along to someone you care about.